Published: 29/05/2012 12:21:04
REDUCING THE IMPACT OF EQUINE FLU ON THE OLYMPICS
Following the recent equine influenza (EI) developments in North Western France, the governing bodies for horse sports have asked for the AHT’s assistance in minimising any risks associated with the disease between now and July.
Transfer of EI can occur, even in vaccinated horses, so it is important that precautions are taken to reduce the risks.
Dr Richard Newton, Head of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance at the AHT, said: “using rapid and sensitive viral detection methods applied to respiratory samples (especially swabs from the nose and throat) has greatly improved the accuracy of diagnosing EI.”
Dr Newton has invited sport leaders and the veterinary profession to take advantage of the AHT’s ongoing EI surveillance initiatives, and established communication links with notification systems, to reduce the risk of EI’s incursion into the UK at this very important time.
Dr Newton added: “The UK’s Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry has supported our World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) laboratory initiatives through Horserace Betting Levy Board funding and now is the time for us all to make the most of the excellent systems we have in place.
“We feel that this heightened surveillance activity for what is probably the most potentially infectious and rapidly spreading equine infectious disease is particularly important at this time.”
The AHT will provide nasopharyngeal swabs and viral transport media to veterinary surgeons at no charge and no laboratory fees for testing for equine influenza virus will be applied to samples marked as for “Equine Influenza Surveillance 2012”*. The AHT laboratories would be very happy to receive any samples from horses in which EI may be suspected and in particular from animals in yards where there may have been recent introduction of infection through return of animals from competition events, both here in the UK and from mainland Europe.
British Equestrian Federation Chief Executive, Andrew Finding, said: “The BEF is highly supportive of this initiative which seeks to protect our equine population and sport from disease risk. We are grateful to AHT and the Thoroughbred sector for having such systems in place and ready to deploy.”
To find out more about the AHT’s work monitoring current strains of, and developing vaccines for, EI, click here
* Please note that as this is an EI specific surveillance programme any additional pathogen tests (e.g. EHV-1/-4 PCR) requested on these samples would be subject to the usual laboratory charges and unfortunately the scheme would not be able to cover veterinary visits or fees for professional veterinary time.
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